Q. What can George Orwell teach us about language and readability?
A. Quite a lot.
His 1946 essay, ‘Politics and the English Language’ is not to everybody’s taste but as guide to simple and effective writing it’s a great place to start. I’ll be using it in my Writing for the Web workshop at the Frontline Club in November and I’ve written a piece on it for Content Desk.
Among the advice Orwell offers is this:
A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:
1. What am I trying to say?
2. What words will express it?
3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?
And in the course of the 5,000+ word article, he produces not one but three numbered lists. Very now.